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Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome back to another season of the EatFL. We’ve got a helluva slate of foodsports lined up for you this season, filled with slow-mo footage of sandwiches, cakes, salads, and drinks crashing into mouths, expert chalkboard analysis of utensil and condiment techniques, plus previews of classic grudgematches between bacon vs. cheese, peanut butter vs. jelly, oil vs. water (JESUS, remember last year?!), spaghetti vs. meatballs, and gin vs. tonic (no one remembers last year).

Every year we’re reminded: You gotta eat to win, give the ball to your runningsnack, score munchdowns, check out those hot beerleaders. Do I hate myself for these puns. A’YUP!

Before the season kicks off this weekend, we thought it might be nice to preview the Adam’s Morgan conference. Today we spotlight long standing member of the NW division, The Diner. After a rigorous offseason training schedule, their menu has slimmed down to make their playbook simple, but oh-so effective. As a typical americana-take on diner cuisine, these folks have a real meat-and-potatoes defense and a classic pancake-and-syrup offense. Here’s a look at some of their head-to-head clashes they’ve got going on this year:

Week 1: Croque and Dagger vs. Migas

Projected Croque and Dagger starting lineup: Two eggs over-easy on sourdough with bacon or ham. Smothered in bechamel and melted gruyere. Served with home fries or grits.

Projected Migas Lineup: Fried corn tortillas, eggs, tex-mex corn and chorizo succotash,  salsa, sour cream, avocado.

Preview: It’s hard to go wrong picking either one of these dishes. Both of them feature strong lines, meaning it’s going to be a sloppy, slobbrknocking battle to wield these items without forks and knives or copious napkin use. The Croque and Dagger tends to break off in a goulash of egg white, runny yolk, big, oozing peels of cheese, with bacon and bread tumbling somewhere in the mix as well. Migas has a caliente edge with chorizo and salsa, with avacado and sour cream giving it a luscious texture.

Predicted Winner: Croque and Dagger. Essentially it boils down to Migas playing the wrong kind of foodball. We’re in America, okay?! I don’t want a vuvuzela blaring in my ear while I eat and I hate when my waiter or waitress goes down at the slightest contact, writhing and clutching their shin like their leg is broken. Croque and Dagger, with its humble side of homefries, really does it for me.

Week 2: Deviled Eggs vs. Pimento and Cheese

Projected Deviled Eggs starting lineup: Bacon, smoked paprika, red onion marmalade

Projected Pimento & Cheese Lineup: Pimento pepper blended into cheese, cucumber, carrots, potato chips. Vegetables selection subject to market (free agent) availability.

Preview: These are the “giant slayers” of the EatFL. Not necessarily predicted to make it all the way to the head of the table for the Super Banquet, but they’re tasty and will take on any challenger, possibly beating out one of the big boy entrées on any given Sunday. Admist all The Diner’s “greasy spoon” cuisine, these are two options that will satisfy those looking for a healthier option. These two dishes don’t lift weights to train, they do yoga and get juiced on green tea.

Predicted Winner: The Deviled Eggs edge out Pimento & Cheese with a few trick plays (bacon and red onion marmalade) that give this a tangy crunch, elevating it above a P&C team with a solid returning core of starters (cheese).

Week 3: Reuben vs. Grilled Chicken Sandwich

Projected Reuben starting lineup: Corned beef, sauerkraut, swiss, 1000 island, rye

Projected Grilled Chicken Sandwich Lineup: Sun dried tomato aioli, pesto, gruyere, onion marmalade, mixed greens, sourdough

Preview: Man what a classic match up. Who knows what’s going to happen this year. What, I mean after the ’86 pickle controversy, the leavened bread lockout in ’92, and the carousel of Head Chefs that have coached these two behemoths in the last several years. The good news is that they’re still as good as you remember. These simple, unpretentious sandwiches both wallop tastebuds with a surprising amount of potency, this years Victor Cruz of sandwiches, but with no salsa (dancing).

Predicted Winner: Gonna have to the Grilled Chicken Sandwich here folks. You’ve got a balanced offense (chargrilled smokey chicken flavors with sweet onion marmalade) and a superb defense (easy to wield, not a sloppy eat). No discredit to the Reuben, which is fine in its own right, but I could see the Grilled Chicken making it all the way TO THE BIG DANCE.

Week 4: Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf vs. Pesto Rubbed Grilled Salmon

Projected Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf starting lineup: Meatloaf, bacon, tomato glaze, whipped potatoes, creamed corn

Projected Pesto Rubbed Grilled Salmon Lineup: Jalapeno-cheese grits, scallion, cremini mushroom, citrus butter

Preview: Another bout between two heavy weights of the griddle-iron. This is arguably the matchup of the season, so you’re going to want to keep a close eye (and mouth) on how this one plays out. Out of the gates Meatloaf boasts its boldest off-season acquisition of Bacon, coiled tightly around a succulent slice of meatloaf. The Salmon has a deadlock response with its scattering of ‘shrooms and a bedrock defense of grits anchoring its secondary.

Predicted Winner: After much deliberation, the Salmon is going to win out here. On top of the fact that the fish flakes off in tasty bite sized hunks, it’s overwhelming to think of the talent waiting in the wings behind it: savory mushrooms, and thick-cut grain cheesy grits with mild jalapeno spice. The meatloaf, while a worthy opponent, will give way in this battle of surf vs. turf.

Week 4: Chocolate Chip Thin Mint Shake vs. Georgia Peach Shake

Projected Chocolate Chip Thin Mint (Adult) Shake starting lineup: Meatloaf, bacon, tomato glaze, whipped potatoes, creamed corn

Projected Georgia Peach (Adult) Shake Lineup: House-infused orange cinnamon bourbon, peach pie, vanilla ice cream

Preview: Sort of like hating the Dallas Cowboys, (adult) milkshakes are two teams that I think just about everyone has an opinion on: except unlike the ‘boys, it’s universal love instead of widespread contempt. Who didn’t have a huge-ass Starter jacket with one of these two milkshake logos on the back growing up? Except now that you’re of age, you get to enjoy these two treats with a spike of liquor. And what’s a foodsport without a heady dose of alcohol?

Predicted Winner: The Georgia Peach is emerges as the victor here. The peach pie is blended up within the sake, so along with the cool vanilla ice cream teeming in your cup, you also get little nuggets of peach and pie crust mixed in the huddle. At the same time, it’s hard to ever go wrong with chocolate, so at this point at the betting table it comes down to instinct or preference.

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